First, the name. 'Dor', we are told, is Romanian for nostalgia and/or gloominess. As a Belgian ensemble, Trio Dor first got together in 1992, consisting of Wietse Beels, violin, Gwen Cresens, accordion, and Vlad Weverbergh, clarinet and bass-clarinet. In 2006, the Trio was reconstituted by its leader, Romanian-Belgian Vlad Weverbergh, as a quartet (!) with Hungarian-born Máté Szüchs on viola, Michel Lambert (from the French-speaking part of Belgium) on accordion and Romanian-Belgian Ioan Baranga on double bass.
Trio Dor performs its own arrangements and interpretations of European traditional music, mainly of Balkan and Slavonic origin. They also include klezmer repertoire, write and arrange their own music and extemporise. All the players have classical training and display considerable virtuosity on their instruments, especially Szüchs, who is a world-class violist. Jazz also forms part of their style, melded as it is into their folk art. Trio Dor regularly plays concerts and has on several occasions performed with authentic gypsy orchestras.
In terms of folk-born nostalgia, the unusual instrumentation of the quartet produces sound of great warmth, a "dark-brown" colour as it were, perfect for this repertoire. On the 'Trio 4 Dor' disc, there are many East European dance types, mainly with characteristic fast-slow-fast structure. The fast sections are fiery indeed, and most of the dance forms end with a whirling, accelerated gypsy finale, although this galvanising of energy by repetition of a short phrase becomes rather predictable after a while.
Each of the Trio Dor members exhibits his particular talents in a solo track which bears their name. Szüchs, for example, emotes heartbreakingly as a love-lorn gypsy fiddler, while Michel Lambert's accordion quivers in a convincingly sleazy Parisian café style - I was expecting Edith Piaf to pop up and join in. And that is a reservation for me; I couldn't quite decide whether the music really was emotionally spontaneous or a really skilful parody, as there is plenty of evidence for tongue-in-cheek humour on this disc.
Aliud's DSD recording is noticeably closer than on its classical ensemble discs, appropriately so for the material and style. It is very interesting to hear the viola's throaty sound up so close and personal, but the fantastic detail of the playing and ultra-tight ensemble are quite thrilling, and given well-balanced staging in a sympathetic acoustic.
No doubt this is a 'niche' album, but if you are interested in this kind of music, you will not be disappointed by the first-class musicianship and colourful repertoire. However, you might think that the playing is just too perfect, too classical, for World Music such as this. Entertaining and worth exploring, though.
John Miller, SA-CD.net
Produced by: Vlad Weverbergh
Sound engineer & mastering: Jos Boerland
Recording supervisor: Stoffel de Laat
Production Supervisor: Katrijn Hendriks
Post Production: Trijntje Boerland
Photographs: Miel Pieters & Rikkes Voss
Recorded at The Location
Vlad Weverbergh, clarinet
Máté Szücs, viola
Ioan Baranga, double bass
Michel Lambert, accordion